CUBA

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Begüm Yachting is the largest SUPER YACHT AGENT located all along the Turkish Coast and now in CUBA!!!

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We proudly announce the opening of our new office in Cuba. Our new office will allow us to comfortably continue growing and providing our clients with the highest level of service.

Cuba is an exciting yachting destination with some of the world’s finest beaches, a rich cultural heritage and a vibrant approach to life. Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean. The western most island of the Greater Antilles, Cuba is located just 90 miles from Key West, Florida. Cuba’s stunning variety of landscapes, mixing mountains, agricultural valleys and endless sandy beaches, make it a fascinating destination for sailors and other visitors.

You can directly contact us by cuba@begumyachting.com. We look forward to welcoming you and offering the best service as always…
For more information, please kindly visit our main website of Cuba www.cuba.begumyachting.com

Yacht Services:
-Itinerary Planning
-Berth Reservation
-Customs Clearance
-Permission of Landing of the Private Plane
-Land Excursion
-Provisioning
-Fuel Arrangements
-Travel & Accommodation
-Courier Service
-APA Delivery and Banking
-Flower Arrangements
-Laundry Service

Highlights of Cuba:

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-Havana

Situated on the north coast of the island, and built around a natural harbour, Havana (La Habana) is one of the most lively and colourful cities in the Caribbean. Much of the city’s charm can be found among the narrow, derelict streets packed with crumbling buildings and fascinating people. Every open door and overhanging balcony allows glimpses of rocking chairs and colourful washing, accompanied by strains of music. On the streets Chinese-made bicycles, yellow, egg-shaped coco-taxis and two-humped camello (camel) buses weave among the melee of 1950s Chevy’s and Russian Ladas.

The historic old town, Habana Vieja or Colonial Havana, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and fast becoming a major tourist destination. The Spanish left behind some superb colonial architecture, and many of the great buildings and grand plazas are being restored to their former glory. Central Havana (Centro Habana) boasts some of the most important museums and architectural highlights, including the Revolution Museum, and the National Capitol, resembling the US Capitol Building in Washington DC. The trendy suburb of Vedado boasts high-rise buildings and modern hotels, and draws locals and visitors alike with its theatres, art galleries, restaurants, cafes, and cabaret shows; however most of the city’s sights are in Habana Vieja and Centro Habana. The five-mile (8km) seawall, or malecón, stretches from Vedado to Habana Vieja, and is lined with architectural gems in various states of dilapidation or restoration.

Havana’s nightlife will exhaust even the most seasoned partygoer. After dark, nightclubs and bars come alive and the famous rum cocktails flow freely. The city has plenty of cultural entertainment too, and its fair share of monuments, museums and statues. For those travellers needing rest from all this activity, the stunning beaches are only twenty minutes east of the city.

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Attractions in Havana

Playas del Este

Twenty-five minutes east of Havana are the Playas del Este, a chain of sandy beaches stretching for six miles (10km) between Bacuranao and Guanabo. On the weekends, they are generally packed with Cubans escaping the city.

There are a few tourist hotels lining the coast, but other than that, there are limited facilities. For those who need an escape from the city the beaches make a good day trip; however, those expecting pristine tropical island beaches might be disappointed. The ocean is still unbelievably inviting, with clear, warm turquoise water, but the beaches themselves tend to suffer from all the rubbish left by the crowds.

During the week the beaches are much quieter and cleaner so that is the time to go if you want a solitary, peaceful experience. There are a number of pristine ‘tourist’ beaches in Cuba but the Playas del Este are fun because they offer a more genuine experience of the festive Cuban beach lifestyle; if you want to mix with locals and enjoy people watching then this is the perfect place to park your towel. There are usually lots of vendors selling food and beer at reasonable prices on these beaches and people are generally very friendly.

Museo de la Ciudad (Museum of the City)

Built in 1791, the stately Baroque residence of Cuba’s colonial governors and former Presidential Palace, the Palace of the Captains General stands as an impressive sight on the Plaza de Armas and is now the repository for the city’s museum collections. The building itself is truly wonderful, with a central courtyard containing a white marble statue of Christopher Columbus. It has been beautifully restored and in itself justifies the entrance fee.

The museum’s displays and exhibits tell the tale of Havana, from its founding to the present day, including rooms devoted to the Cuban wars for national independence. The colourful Hall of Flags contains the original Cuban flag, as well as a number of others used by the Spanish colonial government. There are also exhibits relating to archaeology, folklore and weaponry, and an art collection that includes porcelain, paintings and furniture of historic value and great beauty.

The treasures are varied and interesting but a guided tour does help supplement the labels, which are not comprehensive. Visitors should not that there have been reports of the museum attendants trying to hustle tourists out of money by offering to take photos for them, so be aware that they may approach you.

Cigar Factories

Even non-smokers have to agree that a visit to Cuba would not be complete without investigating the island’s most famous export, cigars. The art of cigar-making in Cuba is old and traditional, and three main factories in Havana offer tours for visitors to see cigars still rolled by hand.

In the oldest factory, Partagas, founded in 1827, traditionally a reader is employed to keep workers entertained while they fashion the famous cigars. Apparently this is the reason some of the famous cigars are named after literary characters. Tours leave every 20-30 minutes, depending on what language you want to be guided in. The tour lasts about 45 minutes.

Havana’s other cigar factories are La Corona and the lesser-visited Romeo y Julieta. There are shops attached to the factories where cigars can be purchased. Visitors are advised not to buy cigars from people off the street, as these are usually rolled banana leaves fashioned into cigar look-alikes and the sellers are persistent hustlers. Los Cohiba Esplendidos are supposed to be the best cigars in Cuba, formerly only available to Fidel Castro.

Plaza de la Revolución

The Plaza de la Revolucion is a famous attraction in Havana. The gigantic square, which is dominated by the imposing José Martí Memorial, has provided the setting for numerous political rallies, and the podium in front of the memorial is where important political figures, like Fidel Castro, have addressed more than a million Cubans on important occasions, such as 1 May and 26 July each year.

At the foot of the memorial is a museum dedicated to José Martí, a national hero who would most likely have become Cuba’s first president had he survived the Second War of Independence in 1895. It is possible to take the elevator to the top of the 138-foot (42m) memorial, the highest structure in the city, to see some great views of Havana and get some photographs. Located behind the memorial are the closely guarded offices of Castro.

Opposite the memorial, on the far side of the square, is the much-photographed Che Guevara image with the slogan Hasta la Victoria Siempre (Forever Onwards Towards Victory), that identifies the Ministry of the Interior building. The square is worth a visit if for no other reason than the important role it has played in Cuban history.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

The Bellas Artes Museum was founded in 1913 and is now split into two buildings, both architecturally interesting and impressive, housing International and Cuban art respectively. Both fine art collections are worthy of detailed exploration and should delight any visitor interested in art.

The Colección de Arte Universal covers everything from ancient Greek artefacts and Latin American pieces to art by French, Dutch and Italian painters, and includes work by masters such as Gainsborough, Goya and Rubens. The Colección de Arte Cubano is also outstanding and covers works from the 16th to the 20th centuries by prominent Cuban artists.

The Cuban galleries have rooms dedicated to religion, landscape, portraits and scenes from Cuban life. Of course, the hyperrealism of the revolution and post-revolution years is also prominent and this has probably become the style of art most associated with modern Cuba. Famous paintings in the contemporary section include Gitana Tropical by Victor Manuel Garcia (the ‘Cuban Mona Lisa’) and El Rapto de las Mulatas by Carlos Enriquez.

Events in Havana

Havana Carnival

Cubans take enormous pride in their cultural heritage and clearly consider throwing a great party to be part of that tradition. Carnival is lauded as the most long-standing and most popular festival of this jovial and musical nation and they go all out in the months of July and August with parades, street parties, colourful costumes, wild dancing, congo lines, fireworks and traditional music. The fun and frolics reach high levels over weekends, when the locals put their toil and troubles away and bring out the rum. Carnival comes with some entertaining traditions, like the carrying of huge effigies of well-known people paraded along the coastal road, the Malecon, and the gaudy ‘faroleros’, decorated lamp posts carried aloft by dancers. The wonderful thing about Carnival is the celebration of all aspects of Cuban heritage and culture including contingents like the Chinese Cubans who partake very actively in festivities. Other cities in Cuba also celebrate Carnival but not necessarily at the same time as Havana. Although Santiago de Cuba is renowned to host the largest and most riotous celebrations, Havana’s Carnival remains the most well-known and well-attended event for tourists and foreigners. Santiago’s Carnival is in late July, usually coinciding with the celebrations in Havana; Trinidad has its own, smaller version of Carnival in late June.

Havana Jazz Festival

Held every year, Havana’s feast of jazz is eagerly awaited by fans around the world, offering four days of concerts, jam sessions and workshops. It claims to be the ultimate Latin music event in the world and its popularity speaks for itself. In 2012 Havana is hosting the 28th edition of this long-standing festival. Organisers claim to ensure that prices are kept as low as possible to ensure that the festival is affordable. Many artists travel to Cuba to perform without any remuneration, the event having gained a prestigious reputation for quality and good organisation. Past jazz masters who have attended the festival include Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Haden. The star of the show is Cuba’s own famous Chucho Valdes, who usually performs with other local artists and international guests in the grand finale concert on the final night. For true jazz fanatics there is a Gold Access Havana Jazz Festival Pass, which grants the bearer access to all performances and venues. Even if you are not keen to partake in all the events, the Jazz Festival marks a good time to visit the city of Havana because there is an extra festive atmosphere and many touristic activities are discounted at this time to encourage good attendance and flaunt Havana’s many attractions.

International Festival of New Latin American Cinema

The annual International Festival of New Latin American Cinema gives film lovers a chance to see new independent feature films, documentaries, shorts and animations exploring Latin American and Caribbean culture in cinemas across Havana. The festival exists to promote and acknowledge cinema that enriches or reaffirms the Latin American and Caribbean cultural identity and 2012 marks its 34th year. Categories in the competition include Fiction, Documentary, Animation and Opera Prima (for filmmakers on debut). Be sure to catch films from the ‘Made in Cuba’ category for the best local flavour. The festival also showcases international cinema and attracts many filmmakers from all over the world. The organisers host seminars and workshops in various venues, to promote the art of filmmaking in Latin America and to instigate discussion on cultural and artistic issues. Pick up a copy of the Film Diary for information and reviews of all participating films. This festival finishes just before the International Jazz Festival begins in Havana and many people like to get a taste of both; December is a period of jubilant cultural celebration in the city and a popular time to visit.

-Santiago de Cuba

Santiago, the original capital of the island of Cuba, was founded in 1514, and is today the centre of the province of Santiago de Cuba in the southeast of the island, 485 miles (780km) from the present capital, Havana.

One of the most picturesque cities in Cuba, it is a hilly city with sloping streets, nestled between the coast and the Sierra Maestra mountain range. Santiago boasts a number of monuments and museums associated with Cuba’s long struggle for national independence. The city also claims to have the oldest home in the Americas, the Case de Diego Velazquez, the residence of the Spanish governor of old, which is a highlight of the city’s historic quarter. Santiago is a diverse city, with many population groups in its neighbourhoods, including the French-Haitian district of Tivoli.

The city is also known for its annual carnival, renowned to be even bigger and more riotous than Havana’s version (it did come first, after all). It is also blessed with closely situated natural areas, including the 80,000-hectare (197,684 acre) Baconao Park, which begins in the city and ends in the lagoon of the same name. It is climatically the hottest part of Cuba, with average temperatures of 90°F (32°C).

Attractions in Santiago de Cuba

Baconao Park

The large park region, which is a World Heritage Biosphere Reserve, is filled with attractions other than wildlife refuges and coffee plantations. It is possible to climb 459 stone steps to the summit of the huge rock, La Gran Piedra, and stand 4,049ft (1,234m) above sea level for a beautiful view. It is said that on a dark night, one can see the lights of Jamaica in the distance.

The park boasts extremely varied attractions and their relation to a general theme is not always obvious but there is an attempt to move chronologically through history beginning with the prehistoric and ending with the Cuban revolution. In the Valle de la Prehistoria visitors are awed by dozens of life-size model dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures lurking in lush vegetation.

There is also a magnificent 45-hectare (111-acre) garden, the Jardin Ave de Paraiso, dating from 1860, that was laid out on a former coffee plantation, and features a series of colour-coded gardens with unique scents and displays in each. An artistic community consisting of ten families have formed a fieldstone hamlet, offering artwork of a high standard at Comunidad Artistas Oasis.

There is also an Auto Museum, featuring gleaming old model cars, an aquarium, and multiple museums dedicated to Cuban history and the revolution. This is the area from which Castro planned the July 26th movement and it is of huge national importance to the Cubans. At Baconao Park there really is something for everyone.

Castillo de San Pedro del Morro (Morro Castle)

Santiago’s most impressive structure is poised ominously atop the cliffs at the narrow entrance to Santiago Bay, about nine miles (14km) south of Santiago. This enormous piece of military architecture, a maze of stairways and dungeons, was begun in 1640 and was originally built to defend the bay from pirates and naval attack.

The Morro was rebuilt in 1664 after the English pirate, Henry Morgan, reduced it to rubble. At one stage in its long history the castle was also used as a prison before being converted once again into a military fortress. The castle now houses the Museum of Piracy, featuring excellent displays on piracy, colonialism, and slavery. There are old blunderbusses, muskets, cutlasses and Toldeo blades in glass cases.

The Morro is one of the best-preserved 17th century Spanish fortresses in the world and it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are amazing views from all over the fortress and many enviable photo opportunities. There is also a restaurant on the terrace. The Morro is a fascinating place to explore and visitors to Santiago are encouraged not to pass this attraction up.

Bacardi Museum

Bacardi, the world’s largest privately held, family-owned spirits company, started producing rum in Santiago way back in 1862. The family was forced to flee Cuba after the revolution in 1959, and Bacardi drinks are not found in Cuba today, but the brand still strongly associates itself with the country.

Interestingly, it was the fruit bats that nested in the rafters of the original rum factory that gave Bacardi rum its world-famous bat logo. The company’s current production sales exceed 240 million bottles a year, in 170 countries.

Emilio Bacardi’s private art and antique collection is still in Santiago, as is the original family rum distillery, and it is this collection that you can view in the Emilio Bacardi Moreau Museum. It is not a rum museum or a distillery tour but an eccentric collection of the famous family’s historical atrefacts and art.

A fun and educational outing, the Bacardi museum is well worth a visit when in Santiago. Budget at least an hour to take in all the sights the museum has to offer. If you want to take photographs in the museum you can but only for an additional fee.

Santa Ifigenia Cemetery

Santa Ifigenia Cemetery was officially founded in 1868, although some of its graves are older, and declared a National Monument in 1937. It now shelters a number of important historical and cultural figures including war heroes and famous politicians and artists.

The gateway to this cemetery is dominated by a memorial to Cuban soldiers who died fighting in Angola. From here, the visitor is led to the impressive tomb of Cuban national hero, revolutionary and writer Jose Marti. The tomb is in the form of a crenulated hexagonal tower with each side representing one of Cuba’s six original provinces. The round mausoleum is designed so that the sun will always shine on Marti’s casket, which is draped with the Cuban flag.

The cemetery also contains a shrine to the Virgin of Charity, Cuba’s patron saint, in the form of the Basilica del Cobre. This little church is said to be the scene of miracles performed by the saint. It is a very attractive cemetery with a number of impressive and quite original tombs and strolling around it is intriguing; a lot can be learned about a culture from the way they commemorate their dead.

Moncada Barracks

If you are interested in the history of the revolution then visiting Moncada Barracks is something you must do in Cuba. The bullet-ridden Moncada Barracks and adjacent Parque Historico Abel Santamaria were the setting for very important events in Cuba’s history.

In 1953, a group led by Fidel Castro attacked the barracks in an attempt to steal weapons and launch the revolution, but the plan failed and 61 of them were killed. The rest were captured and many tortured to death by Batista’s army. Fidel was later tried in the Escuela de Enfermeras for leading the attack, and this is when he wrote his famous ‘History Will Absolve Me’ speech.

This failed attack is widely considered to mark the beginning of the Cuban revolution and the date of the attack, 26 July, was adopted by Castro as the name for his revolutionary movement (Movimiento 26 Julio) which succeeded in defeating Batista’s dictatorship in 1959. The barracks was converted into a school after the revolution and in 1978 the perimeter walls were rebuilt and half of the building became a museum.

-Vinales Valley

A recent addition to the UNESCO World Heritage list, the town of Vinales, and the valley in which it is set in Cuba’s ‘green’ Pinar del Rio province, is characterised by its impressive round-topped hills, or mogotes. These date back to the Jurassic period and are covered with rich and varied vegetation; they are remnants of the plateau that was eroded by a network of underground rivers millions of years ago.

The Vinales Valley is located about 112 miles (180km) west of Havana. The natural beauty and tranquility of the valley is interspersed with green fields of tobacco, coffee and other crops that grow out of the rich red earth, where traditional agricultural techniques have remained unchanged for centuries. Scattered palm trees and pine forests shelter a variety of melodious birds, and the area is also a magnet for speleologists and cave enthusiasts, being riddled with limestone caves and caverns.

The hilly landscape, quaint villages, oxen-ploughed fields, rustic barns and underground rivers, stalagmites and stalactites, provide a striking contrast to the colonial grandeur and white sandy beaches found on the rest of the island. The main valley village, Vinales, is a charming, very laid-back place that makes a good base to explore the beautiful surrounds.

Attractions in Vinales Valley

Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás

Cuba’s largest cave system, with more than 29 miles (46km) of underground galleries spanning eight different levels, the Santo Tomás caves are situated about 10 miles (16km) west of Vinales.

Very informative, 90-minute guided tours take visitors 138 feet (42m) above the valley floor into the sixth gallery, where fantastic limestone formations, glittering stalactites and stalagmites, underground lakes and vast caverns are revealed by the light of headlamps. You may be taken to level seven as well but unless you are an advanced caver you will most likely be limited to these two levels; the entrances to levels six and seven are semi-hidden on a forested slope overlooking the valley and they provide wonderful vantage points for views and photographs.

The cave system includes a tiny museum and visitor centre but for the most part the caves have been kept in their natural state, avoiding the tourist traps of electrical lighting and souvenir stands. In accordance with this, the place is refreshingly devoid of large crowds and tour groups which allows for a more mysterious and authentic tour than is usually possible in famous cave systems.

Cueva del Indio

Located in the Viñales Valley, the Cueva del Indio is a magical place for kids to visit. The area provides some great family activities such as hiking and climbing, as well as some gorgeous rock pools for swimming in the stunningly bright green water.

The caves are named for the local Indians who once inhabited them, the Guanajatabey Amerindians, who carved shelters into the limestone rock and hid in the caves from Spanish colonialists. Some of their bones were unearthed in the cave system and their art is still visible on the walls. The caves were rediscovered in 1920 and, with a gallery spanning 27 miles (45km), the Cueva del Indio cave system is very impressive.

Travellers with kids in Cuba will find this a wonderful family activity; children will love the boat ride across the underground lake in the cave, and discovering the stalactites, stalagmites and petroglyphs on the walls of the cave. There is a museum and a cafeteria within the cave system. It doesn’t take long to take the tour through the caves but it is quite a magical experience and worth a quick detour.

Vinales Botanical Garden

Almost all of the Vinales Valley attractions revolve around natural splendour and the Vinales Botanical Garden, the Jardin de las Hermanas Caridad y Carmen Miranda, is a special addition to this panoply of natural bounty. This small botanical garden ranks very highly among things to see and do in Vinales, partly because it is so refreshingly intimate and un-touristy.

The garden was cultivated by a local family, who still live on the property, in order to preserve samples of indigenous, tropical plants. It feels like a Cuban version of the Secret Garden; a riot of colour and controlled jungle which delights travellers of all ages. This is an ideal place to familiarise yourself with the flora of the region. Usually there is a family member available to show you around and teach you about all the different species of plants which makes for a lovely, personal experience. Roosters and chickens roam freely in the rambling garden and there are lots of lizards and birds. There are also some quirky decorations (dolls heads adorn some of the fence posts).

You can simply stroll into this garden from the main road of the village, and it is a wonderful place to wander alone, but be aware that although entrance is free small donations are expected, particularly if one of the family members gives you a tour. If you are lucky enough to be invited be sure to have a peek inside the house as it is also very charming.

-Trinidad

One of the most visited towns in Cuba, Trinidad maintains a charming colonial atmosphere with its uneven cobbled streets, quiet plazas, churches, red-tiled roofs, wooden shutters and wrought-iron grilles. Bicycles and horse-drawn carts bump along streets lined with untidy pastel-coloured houses, where open doors afford brief views of folk on rocking chairs and wooden birdcages, and the strains of salsa music drift out from cool courtyards where the intricate steps of the dance are practiced.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, Trinidad has escaped the modern tourist infrastructure and large hotels usually accorded a popular destination, and retains its welcoming and tranquil atmosphere.

Surrounded by sugarcane plantations, and situated between the Topes de Collantes mountains and the Caribbean Sea, Trinidad’s location also provides easy access to the beach, the mountains, and the beautiful surrounding countryside, where vestiges from the 18th and 19th centuries in the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills) testify to a time of prosperity during the sugarcane boom.

The Valley and its old sugar mills are interesting historically, as well as scenically, because the slave trade was a huge contributing factor in the sugarcane industry’s success. It was after the abolishment of slavery that the boom ended and the area drifted into picturesque tranquility.

Attractions in Trinidad

Museo Romántico

Trinidad has a number of museums in colonial mansions, but one of the best is the beautifully renovated Museo Romántico overlooking the main square, Plaza Mayor. The Plaza Mayor is the historic centre of Trinidad and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mansions, or palaces, that surround the square date back to the 18th and 19th centuries when trade in sugar and slaves brought great wealth to the area.

The Museo Romántico, or Brunet Palace, was built in 1812 by the wealthy Borrell family but it takes its name from the Brunet son-in-law who took over the house. The museum displays mostly the belongings and personal collections of these two grand families and boasts an excellent exhibition of paintings, decorative furniture and porcelain from the 1830s.

The mansion itself is the main attraction, however, with the original marble floors still on display and splendid frescoes and neoclassical architecture and decoration. The Plaza Mayor is an un-missable attraction in Trinidad and visitors will do themselves an injustice if they don’t explore some of these magnificent old houses, which provide so much insight into a certain period of Cuban history.

Museo Histórico Municipal

This neo-classical mansion belonged to one of the richest families in Cuba, the Borrell family, between 1827 and 1830 but it was bought by German sugarcane plantation owner Justo Cantero, a controversial figure in local gossip. The mansion, now a museum, is still called Casa Cantero.

The grandiose house, just off Plaza Mayor, is in itself the main attraction, with beautiful wall murals depicting classical scenes and splendid decor in the rooms. Apart from the cool, stylish rooms, the museum also displays some exhibits relating to the sugar industry and history of Trinidad, including collections of weaponry, furniture, art and important documents.

One of Casa Cantero’s most popular attractions is the superb view that can be seen from the mansion’s tower – from here you can see wonderful vistas of Trinidad and the Escambray mountains. This view alone will more than justify the entrance fee for photographers. The museum starts getting crowded after 11am, when the tour buses arrive, so it is best to visit early in the morning to enjoy the personal charm of the place.

Ancón Beach

The soft sand and still, warm waters backed by palm trees make the beach at Playa Ancón a popular trip from Trinidad. Situated at the end of the peninsula, seven miles (12km) south of Trinidad, Playa Ancón offers water sports and some good offshore snorkeling and diving sites. The colourful coral, rock tunnels and other exciting features of the seabed make this beach a scuba divers dream.

Visitors can take a yacht out into the ocean for a swim, or hire boats to explore the coast or go fishing. The beach is famous among locals and travellers alike and the crowds there are a great mix of the two: it can be pleasant to go during the week when it is quieter; but, although it can get crowded during the weekend, it is quite fun watching the locals cavort and it is a good opportunity to mingle and meet people.

Make sure to bring snacks or picnic because food stalls at the beach are limited and the hotels along the beach front generally only cater for their guests. A lovely way to see the countryside is to cycle from Trinidad to this beautiful beach – passing through a picturesque little village on the way, which is not strenuous.

Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills)

This picturesque emerald valley was once the centre of the sugar trade industry, and home to the plantations that brought wealth and prosperity to Trinidad in the 18th and 19th centuries. At the peak of the sugar trade there were over 70 sugar cane mills in the valley area and about 30,000 slaves working on the plantations.

Today, the ruins of estates, sugar mills and other remnants are visited by tourists who are attracted by the beauty of the valley, and the historical significance of the slave trade that operated during the valley’s boom years. The main site is the Manaca Iznaga, a striking 144ft (44m) high tower that was used by a plantation owner, one of the wealthiest men in Cuba, Pedro Iznaga, to keep watch over his slaves working in the fields. The bells in this tower would toll to signal the end of the working day. Visitors can climb the tower for impressive views over the countryside.

Along with Trinidad, the Valle de los Ingenios has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Horse riding tours to the valley, departing from Trinidad, are a popular way to see the sights and take in the beautiful surroundings.

Santa Clara

Located 55 miles (88km) north of Trinidad, the city of Santa Clara is best known for its Che Memorial at the Plaza de la Revolución, and monuments relating to the Cuban Revolution. The armoured train monument (Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado) marks the spot where Che attacked the train sending Batista’s troops to Santiago de Cuba, a battle which was a decisive factor in the victory of the revolutionaries.

The Ernesto Che Guevara Monument was built to pay homage to the memory of Che and his comrades who fought with him in Bolivia, and the enormous monument incorporates a huge statue of Che with his famous phrase Hasta la Victoria Siempre (Forever Onwards Towards Victory), as well as representations of many aspects of his revolutionary life.

To one side of the statue, a huge stone block has been inscribed in full with his farewell letter to Fidel Castro. The monument also includes a chilled mausoleum where the remains of Che and his comrades have been interred, and a museum with displays about his life and involvement in the revolution.

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